The Work/Life Flexible Flow

work-life balance

How to balance work, life and your other most important priorities.

As a full-time freelancer and self-admitted control freak, I can tell you first hand that the lines between my work life and personal life fall into a blur fairly easily. When I made the transition to writing as my full-time endeavor, I worried so much about how I would navigate my time spent working from home and how it would affect my overall sanity.

No matter what your career (or where you practice it), finding a balance between your professional and personal obligations can prove one of life’s greatest challenges. In this constantly bustling world in which we live, finding and maintaining a general sense of stability can be a necessary ingredient in the recipe for overall happiness and fulfillment.

Contrary to popular belief, and what self-help blogs, magazines and books might say about work/life balance, there is no distinct answer to what exactly it means. This sense of balance is in the eyes of the beholder, and every individual defines for him or herself what it means to feel steady on both fronts. Just as various career and personal paths speak to certain people, so will different techniques of managing said paths.

The term “balance” can be intimidating, suggesting that perfection can and should be achieved when in reality, it’s not possible. This adds pressure to an already overwhelmed existence, which is why I have dubbed this goal: The Work-Life Flexible Flow. For me, it’s about creating a comfortable routine that accommodates the ups and downs brought on by each day, and being ok with a more general sense of balance rather than specificity that might lead to disappointment.

The following tips provide insightful (but also flexible) starting points for implementing a work-life flow that best suits you.

Don’t live in a guilt cycle. Accept the fact that you won’t ever be able to “do it all” and know that you are not expected to do everything in a literal sense. I try to live by the mantra: It’s not about doing it all, it’s about doing the best you can. Replace overwhelmed thoughts about your current situation with a positive outlook on all that you have been capably blessed with. Use this positive thinking and appreciation to build a schedule that prioritizes what’s truly important and what you (and your family) require in order to stay sane.

Cut out things that don’t add value to your life. When it comes to distractions, I’m as guilty as the next person. Things like TV, social media, daydreaming and even reading can interfere with things that you have actually placed much higher on your priority list. Evaluate the time that you spend on these more trivial pursuits and make adjustments that might not necessarily eliminate them altogether, but better incorporate them into your daily life on a smaller scale.

Decide when to say no. Saying no can be difficult, but can also be so necessary to your sanity. Because I have such a flexible schedule, there are times when I find myself saying yes to many personal obligations and deadlines and then become so stressed about exactly how I’m going to cram it all into each day. Whether you are contemplating a new project at work or extracurricular activity at home, try your best to weigh the costs and benefits in order to determine if a new venture or commitment is particularly right for you.

Outsource tasks. My husband will tell you that one of our greatest relationship challenges is getting me to relinquish control in the name of my own sanity. If you are able, consider hiring help for more time-consuming tasks that you feel act as major roadblocks to your ability to balance life. Look into housekeeping, grocery delivery and even dry-cleaning services that deliver to your home or office. If you can’t hire, then ask for the help you need. I have made a small change to my daily/weekly routine and asked my husband for more help with grocery shopping and as a result, have noticed some drastic improvements in both of our end-of-day stress levels. I have slowly realized that accepting help in the smallest of ways can have a powerfully liberating impact.

Schedule time with loved ones. This one may seem obvious, but I think we all need a reminder that time spent with loved ones nourishes the soul. If you can take even small amounts of time to spend with those who know and love you (children, spouses, parents, friends, or all of the above), you give yourself the opportunity to reboot on a level that cannot be achieved alone. For some people this might mean that you have to schedule family time as diligently as you schedule your workday. Whether you do it mentally or tangibly on your calendar, treat these scheduled “meetings” as you would any other. I have always been a big fan of mandatory family dinnertime because everyone needs to eat, so it only makes sense to eat together and connect at the same time. You can also block out weekly and/or monthly events that allow for more flexibility with diverse schedules.

Schedule time for yourself. “Me time” is something that often gets placed very low on the priority list, and I completely understand why. The relationship that you have with yourself often gets neglected in lieu of family time, career time and even just trying to stay afloat amidst it all. But try to think of this relationship as you would any other. Taking time for yourself, even if it’s 10-minutes a day or an hour on the weekend, can help you recharge, recalibrate, gain perspective on what really makes you happy and how you can more effectively manage your time.

Embrace the chaos. No matter how regimented you are in your routine, things will not always go according to schedule or plan. The most important thing is not only that you give it your all on both fronts, but that you can be realistically flexible to accommodate all of life’s curve balls. The more you have to juggle, the more difficult it will be to feel like you have a grip on it all and keep your head above water. Be okay with making changes, adapting schedules and having an “off” day.

When people ask me how I balance my work and home life, my honest answer is, “I adapt.” I aim to establish an overall work-life environment that brings a holistic sense of fulfillment to my everyday routine. Remember, everyone needs a little something different in order to maintain this, and the idea of balance should be flexible to your needs as an individual, partner, parent, employee and coworker. Ultimately, this is YOUR life. Don’t worry so much about anyone else’s definition of a work-life balance. Develop your own flow and enjoy the fulfillment that it brings you.

Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

running on the beach

How to set goals that make you happy instead of perfect.

Making changes to any health, fitness or wellness routine can be hard. Oftentimes, societal ideals are far too intimidating and can crush the resolve to actually follow through with positive changes before they even begin.

In recent years, I have learned that health is a journey, not a destination. And, can we be honest for a second? When it comes to our health and our bodies, perfection is simply unattainable. You will never be that “perfect” version of yourself because that person doesn’t exist. And why is that? Because you are a human being. Cliché as it may sound, we all have beautiful flaws that make us individually unique. These “imperfections” are actually what make us all better people because without them, we wouldn’t have anywhere (or any reason) to grow as individuals.

Progress is about goals, and goals are healthy. They are powerful. They allow for a pressing reminder that we are capable, that we are on the right track, that we have a purpose, and that our intentions that will positively impact our own lives and likely the lives of others. There are two types of goals: “be good” goals and “get better” goals. Let’s take a deeper look at each type of goal and how it might apply to your health and fitness journey.

 

“Be Good”

This type of goal typically involves a person striving to achieve an ideal concept of “good.” Goals like: Be skinny; Be the strongest; Be the fastest runner; Be this exact weight; Eat only these foods; Eat only this number of calories. You get the idea. Part of the problem with the “be good” type of goal is that it frames the goal in external terms. Be good compared to what? The general standard for success often comes from other people, which is dangerous since you, the individual, are not those other people. You are exclusively you.

The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. In order to attain a “be good” goal, the only possibility for satisfaction is in reaching a specific performance metric. Frustrations and difficulties are more likely to thwart a “be good” goal in its earlier stages, damaging morale and increasing overall anxiety about the specific expectations you have put on yourself. I don’t know about you but to me, this seems awfully draining.

 

“Get Better”

This type of goal is more process based and can better be tailored to you as an individual. Examples include: Eat more vegetables; Drink more water; Drink less caffeine; Develop more muscle tone; Run a bit faster; Run a little farther; Do more push ups; FEEL BETTER; MAKE PROGRESS. This kind of goal is more about the journey toward a greater version of yourself. Incremental progress is seen as a positive thing and you will likely take greater pleasure in the actual work that you are putting in each and every day toward your particular goal.

Not only is this type of goal more tailored to you as an individual person, but it also allows for greater flexibility. The way that our bodies and minds respond to goals can change with great frequency, depending on the curveballs that life throws our way. These frustrations and difficulties can be challenging. “Get better” goals can help us to see the bigger picture in our overall progress, removed from the pressures of numbers, timelines, and unrealistic outside comparisons.

man running on the beach

Embrace the Journey

When I first started to evaluate my health and think about exactly how I could make changes, I was absolutely overwhelmed. In college, I distinctly remember purchasing a juicer, bringing it home and proclaiming that I was going to, “Juice myself skinny!” Looking back, I had no idea what I was talking about, and I had no sense of where I wanted to be health-wise. I can tell you now, that juicing regimen lasted all of about 2 days before it was thrown to the wayside. About a year later I graduated and I still don’t know what happened to that juicer.

Fast-forward to the present day and the health transformation that I have made is truly incredible—one that I am SO proud of. I went from suffering from an inexplicable digestive illness to feeling absolutely wonderful, full of vibrant satisfaction with how my body now functions. But it didn’t take place overnight, or even over the course of a few months or even years. It’s still happening. I resolved to make smaller changes to my diet and lifestyle, changes that have evolved into a very enthusiastic but also very balanced approach to food and fitness. I’ve made great improvements in my health already, but just as I am a changing human, so is my progress and so are my goals.

Right now, I’m growing a tiny human inside of my body, and my goals throughout this pregnancy have always been to nourish my cells, nurture this growing baby and stay as strong as my changing body allows. It’s not about how much weight I gain or how much weight I can (or can’t) lift. It’s not about getting frustrated about how I can’t even climb up a flight of stairs anymore without huffing and puffing my way to the top. It’s not about all of the weird aches and pains that keep me from pushing myself like I used to. It’s about adapting to the current situation and truly enjoying every moment of this ride that is MY life.

 

The Perspective of YOUR Progress

In order to progress, it’s important to embrace openness and flexibility toward your individual goals. Don’t get me wrong, specific goals can be great and for many people they provide a very healthy oomph to progress. For example, you might set out to run a 5K. You might try to drop down to a healthier weight range (key word here: range). You might aim to reduce your sugar intake. You might want to eat more green vegetables. Or you might just want your head to feel clearer and you heart to feel happier.

Your goals and your progress are your own. They are about holistically moving you forward through your life journey toward an optimistic goal of health, wellness and strength, whatever those all mean to YOU. This is a living, breathing, dynamic journey. It’s also a journey that never ends.

Use these simple exercises to eliminate “perfection” out of your vocabulary and instill progress as your truest friend:

  • Make changes for the right reasons. If you don’t have a solid starting point, you are more likely to miss the entire point of the changes you are trying to make. Take some time to evaluate where you are now and how you hope to grow and progress in your health journey.
  • Set realistic goals. Stop looking toward others as the standard of your expectations. Reflect within yourself and set goals that speak to who you are and where you want to be.
  • Create a mantra. “Today is about progress, not perfection.” This is a great place to start. Say this (or something like it) to yourself each day. Journal it. Say it while you make breakfast. Say it when you “mess up.” Say it when you workout. And say it when you don’t.
  • Never beat yourself up. It’s so important to applaud the progress that you make rather than getting hung up on where you might fall short. Did you have an off day? Get over it and move on. Wake up the next morning with the aim to regroup as best you can and try again. Don’t scold yourself or think of it as a failure. Instead, see the lesson and make the connection. Use this increased awareness to continue your progress.
  • Celebrate every ounce of progress you make. Celebrate all of your achievements, no matter how big or small. Honor every step of this journey and praise yourself along the way. You’ll be amazed at what positive reinforcement can do for the soul.
  • Listen to your body and yourself. Even when trying to be realistic, you might progress to find that your body or mind might not be embracing a particular goal as you’d hoped. This is ok. Push yourself, but never so far as to cause physical or emotional damage. If you’re sore, rest. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re sad, cry. If you’re frustrated, breathe. Allow your body to guide your progress and create a relationship with it that you can trust.

Reject perfection as a way of ever referring to your journey through life. If you can accept that you are a constant work in progress, both mentally and physically, you will be so much happier with how this journey evolves for you. Imperfection is what makes you memorable. It’s what makes you a human being. Some days will pump you up, and others might be a total disaster. Be gentle with yourself. Nudge your intentions in the right direction. Encourage your best try each time. Applaud your progress. Learn from your stumbles. Lighten up and smile as you continue your quest for progress, not perfection.

Hot Tub or Pool Workouts

New fitness movements you can try in your pool or hot tub.

We recently came across this really interesting video from Equinox, one of the world’s best high-end gyms. In addition to the cool new pool and hot tub workouts it shows, it’s well produced and shows an incredible locale.

Workouts or exercise programs in the pool or hot tub are not new and the benefits of pool workouts like buoyancy, joint protection and resistance are well documented. However, this video seems to combine the traditional with some interesting modern movements to really enhance what you get out of your hot tub or pool workout.

Give it a try.

The Best Yoga Retreats Around the World

Make Your Next Vacation a Little More Introspective with a Yoga Retreat

Best Yoga Retreats in the WorldThere are vacations you take to explore the outside world. Backpacking across Europe, mountain climbing in the Alps, or taking a cruise on the Nile will get you out of your comfort zone and teach you something new about a place you’ve never been. These trips of a lifetime are the result of years of dreaming, scheming, and saving – the anticipation is half the fun.

Some getaways, though, are meant for exploring your inner world. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the busy pace of work and home life. Stress and tension build up slowly but surely, and eventually, you need some time to process it all. Visiting a place that gets you back into a natural state of being can be just the medicine for restoring peace and mental clarity.

Yoga retreats get your mind away from mundane distractions and focus on you. Destination retreat centers in places like Costa Rica, Spain, and India – often surrounded by scenery that would make the Dalai Lama do a double take – enhance the feeling of relaxation that yoga brings. Luxury retreats offer more than just pose and repose – local gourmet organic food, posh accommodations and spa treatments as relaxing as a long rest in savansana. We’ve curated a collection of some of the most breathtaking yoga retreats around the globe to get you started planning your dream getaway and transformation into a blissed-out yogi. Namaste.

 

Blue Spirit Retreat, Nosara, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s lush rainforests and sparkling blue oceans are central features at Blue Spirit Retreat, a spot on the country’s Nicoya Peninsula that visitors have described as “heaven on Earth.” The sounds and sights of nature are all around, from butterflies flitting in the sunlight to howler monkeys serving as your wakeup call (ideal for the 6 a.m. yoga and meditation classes). Their schedule is booked year-round with organized retreats and teacher trainings, and they have hosted world-renowned yoga instructors.

Blue Spirit Retreat - Costa Rica

Accommodations range from pure luxury (Superior Ocean View rooms with A/C) to more back-to-roots lodging (Eco-cottages and tents), depending on whether you want the comforts of home or to let nature be your guide. Both ocean and mountain views are available in the larger rooms. The Nature Suites are a popular choice among reviewers – nestled on a hill among the trees, they feature a private bath and outdoor shower.

The gourmet, organic and locally sourced meals are mostly vegetarian, like bountiful salads and fresh baked bread, with some fresh caught fish. Commune with others at the three daily meal times, and enjoy organic wines and fine beers in the evenings at Blue Spirit Café. Your yoga sessions take place in beautiful studios with breathtaking views – like the open-aired Nature Studios with pink flowers and lush greenery in every direction. Relax and unwind with body sessions featuring acupressure, crystal therapy, body scrubs, and more than a dozen other treatments. Eat well, sleep well, and live well for your stay at Blue Spirit, an experience that will nourish both body and soul.

For more information visit: www.bluespiritcostarica.com

 

Ashiyana Retreat Centre, Goa, India

This yoga center in Goa has a schedule packed with retreats for all yoga needs, from teacher trainings to combinations of yoga with holistic healing practices. Ashiyana is right near the beach, so visitors can enjoy a dip in the ocean after morning yoga. The exotic coast of Goa is known for its vibrant nightlife, but you’ll be sleeping like a baby at this peaceful center of tranquility in a city that goes 24/7.

Ashiyana Yoga Retreat

Suites, luxury eco-cottages, and beach huts make the accommodations at Ashiyana suitable for a flexible budget. The Raj Suites, located along the Mandrem River, are all organically shaped and stone-built, blending in perfectly with the nature that surrounds it. In the Palm Grove section of the grounds, Ashiyana visitors live among a tropical garden beautifully decorated with a blend of Indian and Indonesian touches.

A specialty at Ashiyana is the Detox and Rejuvenation retreats that reset and refresh the body. Ayurvedic treatments and a simple cleansing diet are designed to help with weight loss, stress reduction, and treating illness. Reenergize and restore balance with one of three “Elixir Programs” offered at the Spa, which include several days’ worth of massages, meditation sessions, and personalized yoga programs to keep you centered.

For more information visit: www.ashiyana-yoga-goa.com

 

Silver Island Yoga Retreat, Greece

Accessible by boat off the coast of Evia Island, Silver Island Yoga Retreat is a place to go off the grid and disconnect – with no main power and no Internet connection, there’s no conceivable perception of the outside world while you’re there (though cell phone service is available, if needed). It’s just you, the island, and your yoga practice. Silver Island’s week-long yoga holidays are offered from April through October, and each hosts a maximum of 10 guests to ensure students get personalized attention.

Silver Island Yoga Retreat, Greece

Silver Island Yoga is a family-run operation: two Greek South African sisters operate it off the private island that has been in their family for generations. Yoga on this 60-acre paradise is hosted on an open-air shala by the Aegean sea. More than 2500 olive trees wave their branches along these shores. The accommodations – three ensuite rooms and three rooms with shared bathrooms – are named after Greek goddesses and are decorated warmly with minimal fuss.

Instructors vary from week to week, and each has their own style – from highly meditative hatha practices to more flowly and active Vinyasa. Choose the style that’s right for you, whether it’s Kundalini yoga for detoxification or yoga designed for clearing the mind. Usually classes are offered twice a day – morning and evening – and some teachers will do private classes during the afternoon.

For more information visit: www.silverislandyoga.com

 

Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand

On the coast of Golden Bay, Anahata Yoga Retreat is located in the remote bush of New Zealand’s South Island. Stay a week to fortify yourself, or for months on end for complete restoration of mind, body and spirit. Extended stays allow visitors to create their own personal retreat – from the daily yoga schedule offerings to private meditation and spiritual guidance.

Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand

Anahata embraces eco-living, a philosophy that touches every aspect of a stay at the ashram. The Anahata retreats are a communal experience of oneness with nature and connecting with other yogis. When you’re not practicing yoga or meditation, there are opportunities to learn Yogic cooking, sing kirtans, play traditional musical instruments and take a relaxing walk to the waterfall. Lodging options embrace closeness with the outdoors and include shared rooms, private straw bale houses and tent camping.

The yoga practiced here is of the Satyananda Yoga tradition, which blends practices found in other styles like Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Raja Yoga, while incorporating unique practices developed by Anahata’s Swami. Personalized health and lifestyle consultations can deepen your awareness of your own body and make for a holistic awakening. This jewel of the South Pacific gives an authentic ashram experience and full immersion in the yoga lifestyle.

For more information visit: www.anahata-retreat.org.nz

 

Kaliyoga, Andalucia, Spain

A one-week stay at Kaliyoga will get you yoga and guided meditation classes, three square vegetarian meals a day, special activities and workshops, and well-kept quarters to rest your head. About two or three different retreats are offered each month. The Raw Superfood Cleanse, for instance, offers lessons in raw cooking and nutrition along with the 11 yoga classes, focusing on the healing powers of nutrient-rich foods prepared healthfully.

Kaliyoga Yoga Retreat, Spain

The schedules at Kaliyoga’s retreats keep you busy with classes, but are flexible enough to allow you the down time that you need. Gather with other yogis around the communal dinner table for evening meals. If you need some alone time, head to the hot tub or set up camp in a hammock for an afternoon of light reading. Classes are geared toward those who have some experience with yoga, though all levels can gain something from the highly knowledgeable and experienced teachers.

Choose your housing from six rooms, all decorated in exotic Spanish designs and colors, some with private bathrooms and others with shared. The Ganesha room has an ensuite bathroom, perfectly matching décor in light, refreshing colors, a four-poster bed with curtains, and access to a small courtyard off the side. If you’ve always wanted to try “glamping,” book a cozy single and double tipi room, furnished with tiled flooring and rugs, luxurious bedding, and all the electricity you’ll need.

For more information visit: www.kaliyoga.com

 

Paradis Plage Yoga, Agadir, Morocco

Morocco is known for its bright colors, aromatic spices, and vibrant open-air markets and cafes. There’s another side of Morocco where orange groves bathe the land in shade and some people surf as often as others go to mosque. Paradis Plage Yoga is centered in this slice of central coastal Morocco, where busy street life meets placid ocean living.

Paradis Plage, Surfing and Yoga

The suites, bungalows and villas at this exclusive resort getaway are a respite from the bustle of the city. Sheltered from the crowded beach and urban noise, the rooms are quiet, restful, and designed with modern tastes. The Prestige Suites have spectacular views of the ocean and gardens, and each has a living room area, two rooms, and two bathrooms – ideal for two couples vacationing together.

Resident teacher Karim Fadali, certified in Classical Tantra and Yoga Therapy, delivers yoga classes morning, noon and night. He has taught yoga all around the world and has been leading groups for more than 15 years. Two-day and five-day packages are offered, as well as packages that include spa services and surfing lessons, or drop in as much as your body needs. Specialized classes, like the restorative Yin Yoga or private yoga therapy for body realignment, help you work toward personal health and wellness goals.

For more information visit: www.paradisplage.com

Is Your Morning Routine Right?

Morning Rituals: Set the Stage for Your Day

Hello MorningFor millions of people, each day starts with a jolt. Those precious morning moments are typically filled with a hazy sense of urgency, chaos or maybe even dread for the hours ahead. How you begin each day is representative of the holistic way in which you are embracing every moment of your life. If a majority of your days begin on a sluggish, stressed or sour note, you are essentially creating for yourself a cycle of draining monotony or negativity that can be difficult to break. Think of each morning as your time and your chance to positively prime yourself not only for the current day’s events, but also for the bigger picture of your life—from goals and ambitions to cherished moments and even the most ordinary occurrences that fall in between.

A happy morning routine can help you clear your mind, energize the body and positively prepare you to tackle the potential curve balls of the day (and life) that lie ahead of you. Use any combination of these tips to fully embrace this time as your chance to synch your mind, body and soul together in a way that will add true value to all of your days.

Rise Earlier

In order to genuinely reap the benefits from a morning ritual, you need to give yourself the time in which to do so and this typically translates to waking up a tad bit earlier. When that alarm goes of, resist the urge to hit snooze! This can create a lackluster day’s beginning, encouraging a sluggishness that can be difficult to shake. Maybe you need to force yourself out of bed by keeping your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room. Or perhaps you need to wake up to a song that inspires you or gets you revved up. Work with your personal preference and wake with purpose and intention.

 

Avoid the Phone

In today’s overly connected society, it can be difficult to break away from the demands or requests of others. Many of us are programmed to check the inbox or social media updates first thing, leaving no room for individual needs that will facilitate healthier personal and professional relationships. Resist the urge to reach for the phone right when you open your eyes. Wake to an old-fashioned alarm clock and know that those messages will still be there once you have taken a few morning moments for yourself.

Watch the video below if you need more motivation to put down the phone.

 

Wake With A Mantra

A mantra can be so beneficial to your perspective, helping you to guide your thoughts toward positivity and inspiration. This can be something simple that you say to yourself every morning, or you can mix things up and give yourself a new mantra to recite every week or even every day. Make sure that it speaks to who you are and what you believe in, exuding positivity and a vivacity that will transpire not only on an emotional level, but in a physical sense as well.

 

Stretch

Once you rev your mind with a mantra, it’s time to physically prepare your muscles for the day. There is really nothing like an enormous stretch to start your day (perhaps accompanied by a big yawn and a deep breath). A simple stretch can help get the blood pumping, release tension and improve circulation. If you wish to take things further, consider practicing some in-bed or on-the-floor Yoga poses such as a forward bend, legs up the wall, supine twist, Happy Baby or Pigeon Pose. This should be a casual flow of whatever feels good in the moment and dictated by a combination of your individual flexibility and what your muscles are asking for.

Stretch Each Morning

 

Give Yourself A Smile

Once you get out of bed, look into the mirror and give yourself a genuine smile. It’s amazing what this positive self-reinforcement can do for your confidence and the way that it translates to your relationships with others. Even on mornings when you are not feeling your best, when you see a happy you reflected in the mirror you are more likely to embrace that high-spirited version of yourself and carry that person with you throughout the day. No matter what transpires over the next 15-18 hours or so, you’ve greeted yourself with a warm gesture of encouragement and validation.

Wake Up with a Smile

 

Dry Brush Your Body

Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic practice that helps to slough off dead skin cells and improve overall cellular circulation throughout the body. You begin at your extremities, working your way in toward the heart, and this practice is best done before hopping into the shower. Dry brushing helps to optimize the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins that have built up overnight and can provide itself as a fantastically invigorating practice. The key is to find a brush that exfoliates adequately but not so coarse that it’s painful or unpleasant to run along your skin.

 

Drink a Glass of Warm Lemon Water

When you wake, you have just gone about 8 hours without water, so it’s important to get things flowing again. Warm lemon water has a lubricating effect on your body’s internal systems. Lemon is incredibly beneficial to the digestive system, helping it to prepare for meals (not to mention it’s zing on your taste buds is so refreshing). If you need to cut down on a bit of the tartness, try adding a touch of honey to make things more palatable. By addressing the body’s immediate need for water before consuming food, you are creating a balanced state of hydration that will help you to feel satisfied and energized as you continue on with your day.

 

Make a Breakfast That Excites You

Without this important meal you might feel empty, deprived, lethargic or if you are anything like me, you will be so cranky! Eating breakfast allows for your body to begin with proper nourishment and adequate fuel that comes in a wide variety of foods and sizes.

Go Bananas - Banana Peanut Butter Power Smoothie Recipe

For some, this may look like a light smoothie or green juice, as the body might not yet be ready to tackle full digestion. For others, it may be aromatic coffee and a banana or peanut butter on toast. And then there are the full-breakfast types who need a balance of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates to feel satisfied and fueled until lunchtime. Whatever the case for you, choose foods that rev your senses. Sometimes, the smell of coffee can impact the body in a similar fashion to actually drinking it. Fresh fruit can tickle your taste buds in a way that incites happy childhood memories. Scrambled eggs and bacon can provide the warmth of a weekend on the coldest of Monday mornings. Listen to your body, play around with breakfast options and plan ahead in order to give yourself something tasty to look forward to.

 

Set 3 Goals For the Day

Before rushing out the door (and perhaps even before you connect via phone or computer), take a moment to set three intentions for your day. These can be work-related, of a personal nature, or a combination of both and should only resonate as the most important tasks that you wish to accomplish during that particular day. Why only three? This keeps things manageable and will keep you from getting carried away and suffering from the discouragement that comes with not getting “everything” done. Remember, things will always fall through the cracks and the smaller tasks that you held in the back of your mind will either get done without even existing on your list of three or fade away because they weren’t all that important to begin with.

When you establish a morning routine, you are adding constructive intention into your day. Not only will this reflect the overall tone you set for your remaining wakeful hours, but it can also dictate how productive, happy, calm and content you will be as you navigate the daily chaos that we call life.

Design the Patio of Your Dreams

What’s Your Personal Patio Style?

Themed inspirations for outdoor living spaces that are all you.

Contemporary Patio and BackyardWatching the kids learn how to swim in the pool. Cooking up some spiced ribs on the grill. Sipping a gin and tonic while watching the sunset.

So many memories can be made on a backyard patio. It’s a place where you can feel safe and cozy while at the same time getting out and enjoying the elements. A custom outdoor patio that is designed around your family and home creates a space for you to cultivate an outdoor life. Features like outdoor kitchens, whirlpools, wall enclosures and pergolas can provide hours of entertainment and relaxation for your family and guests.

Whether you want to design a completely new patio or renovate your current one, you can find inspiration from many sources that will speak to your personal style. Patio design firms often draw ideas from popular themes and then add custom features to suit their clients’ tastes. If you choose to go with a set style or theme, the style of your home should go into that decision. For example, ranch-style houses are often paired with a Southwestern theme, while Victorian homes are well matched with a Shabby Chic ensemble. Read on to discover some popular patio themes and what you might find to be your own personal patio style.

 

Southwestern Motifs Capture the Wild Heart of the Desert

The mysteries of the desert and classic Native American arts come to life in Southwestern themed patios. This style is for those who enjoy adventure and don’t mind a little sand in their boots. The Southwest is filled with sun and bright colors, so don’t be shy with your proverbial brushstrokes. Reds, oranges, yellows, and blues reflect the fiery colors of the desert in contrast to the vast desert sky.

Sonoma Southwestern Style Patio

image source: @Wonderlane on Flickr.com

 

Structures inspired by clay-crafted adobes can create enclosed spaces for intimate gatherings and date nights. America’s inspiration for many of the patterns and objects in New Mexican styles came from, of course, Mexico. The colorful woven Mexican blankets add a layer of casual luxury when laid over an outdoor couch or used as a tablecloth. Chimineas are wood burning stoves, a centuries-old tradition originally used as bread ovens in Mexico. Sold for decoration in a variety of sizes, they make a perfectly subtle accent in a corner or on a table.

Southwest Influenced Patio Design

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Fire pits are a must on a Southwestern patio – where else would a cowboy warm up after a long night’s ride? Round clay or sandstone bordering make for pits that provide a respite for weary travelers. For seating and dining, go with classic wood or wicker furniture in medium warm tones. Metals also evoke a sense of fire and heat, so iron and bronze can also work very well. Iconic images of the Southwest, like Kokopelli symbols and turquoise Zuni embellishments, will give the space an extra touch of authentic.

 

Under the Tuscan Sun, Old World Style Still Reigns

Tuscany has long been a destination for romantic vacations and solo trips for finding oneself. So it’s no wonder that the Old World charms are captured in so many New World patio designs. Rolling fields of juicy vineyard grapes, elegant olive trees and fragrant herbs create a rich, green landscape that induces total relaxation. If you’re a romantic at heart, then an Old World style patio may win your affections.

Old World Style Patio

To capture la dolce vita of the Italian countryside, surround everything in your dream patio with greenery. Vertical gardens swooning with vines, terra cotta urn planters filled with jasmine and wisteria, and shady trees of apple, fig, and olive will bring the calming tones and scents of Tuscany to your own backyard. Geraniums in brilliant pink and white are a common sight on Tuscan homesteads and add a joyful brightness to the color palette.

Food is king in Italy, and dining al fresco is a standing tradition in the Italian summer. Your patio furniture should be a centerpiece of the scene you create, allowing family and friends to enjoy long, leisurely meals together. Choose rustic metallic finishes, wrought iron, or anything with an oxidized look. The surrounding décor will focus on cast aluminum or bronze statues of the gods and other figures, Medici vases, Venetian pot water fixtures, and anything terra cotta. For flooring, fall for sandstone or flagstone, which reflect the earthy colors of Tuscan farms.

 

Get Off Beat with Shabby Chic: Classic Furnishings, Oddities and Antiques

Shabby chic makes old look new – or is it the other way around? Whichever way you look at it, this style blends retro with romantic and leaves a lot of room for originality and even quirkiness. The shabby chic look is for lovers of all things antique and collectible. You may have diverse interests and are often exploring new things, but always like to come back to your usual creature comforts.

Shabby Chic Patio Design

Image source: http://www.lovethispic.com/tag/shabby

 

Gentle pinks, blues, and greens against soft whites are prominent in the shabby chic style. Patterns will be classic American – floral, plaid, and stripes – all very familiar. While the fabrics might be predictable, this is just the backdrop for a fascinating array of knick-knacks and antique store finds to be sprinkled throughout the patio. These can be whatever you want – from salvaged ship parts and stained glass windows to collectible 19th century figurines and original works of art in ornate frames. Let your free spirit roam and don’t hesitate to be spontaneous.

White and antique wicker seating creates a casual and cozy setting for catching up with loved ones over a cup of tea. Natural fibers are best, in keeping with a country theme, eschewing all that is too urban. Distressed oak hard wood floors can be covered with soft area rugs in seating spaces to create an outdoor living room, and left exposed by the pool or hot tub. This motif offers a slower pace of life, one that can be savored and welcomes reflection on the past.

 

Contemporary Designs Create Cutting-edge Leisure

Style seems to start West and move East, and it’s no different when designing a patio. The futuristic styles that design houses call “contemporary” are often first embraced in the uber chic homes of Sonoma Valley, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Contemporary designs are most often embraced by forward-thinking types who enjoy keeping up with the next best thing. While contemporary looks can work in rural, urban, or suburban settings, they create an ambiance that decidedly favors the city.

Contemporary Patio Design

image source: http://www.paolalenti.it

 

Contemporary living demands all of the modern conveniences, so no need to be conservative on the bells and whistles. A full-size kitchen and bar is a perfect example of such luxury. These can be designed large or small to fit any size budget. The foundation of the patio itself will have clean-cut lines to evoke symmetry, and cool flooring made of materials like slate or limestone. Patterns in flooring or walls are industrial and angular, and may have repeated tiling, stamping, and carvings.

In the furnishings and accents, neutral tones contrast with the brightest of brights for elegance as eye-catching as Californian sunflower fields. More earthly colors can be strategically placed for a natural feel even among stainless steel and stone surroundings. Select rattan furniture for casual dining, or dark woods for added sophistication. Walls and planters fitted with bench seating can also provide additional places to lounge around the dining and pool/spa areas.

contemporary patio

image source: pixabay.com

 

Contemporary looks can be dark or bright in tone, but almost always call for more light to soften things up. Metallic chandeliers can be hung under a pergola or even from a tree branch, blending lavish modernity with a classic lighting scheme. Use mirrors set at the back of cavernous and covered spaces to reflect more light into them. A trellis wall offers filtered views, lets in natural light in the daytime and provides a space for adding greenery like climbing plants and vines. Elaborate water features are another opportunity for added lighting – they can be programmed to alternate in multiple colors, and are especially alluring at night.

 

It’s Your Space: Let Your Personality Shine Through

Your patio is your patio. These styles can guide the design, but ultimately the look and feel should make you feel good each moment you spend there with your friends and family, or even alone, knowing that your patio is your special haven away from the duties of the home and the trials of work life. Your patio is your oasis where some of the best memories of your life will take place. It’s a place where you can be yourself, and just be.